There are few names that resonate in the off-road circles as do the words Rod Hall—and for good reason. Back in 1967, when Hall pulled up to the starting line of the inaugural NORRA Mexican 1000 in Tijuana, he had no idea that the next 40 hours would be the catalyst for a career that would span five decades. Hall was a pioneer in the dirt, and his passion for racing landed him contracts with the likes of Bill Stroppe, and auto manufacturers such as Ford, Dodge, and Hummer. With more than 235 first place trophies and countless podium finishes, he is the winningest off-road driver in America. When I caught word that Rod was restoring the Off Road Motorsports Hall of Fame championship Bronco for the 2016 NORRA event (his 50th 1,000-mile charge down the Baja peninsula, I volunteered to help out (carry water, spin a wrench, anything). When he offered me the left seat as his navigator, the opportunity of a lifetime, I suited up and climbed in for a 1,300-plus-mile ride with the granddaddy of off-road racing. For Rod’s thoughts on his first Mexican 1000 check out https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xMKmyDZQEqg
Back in 1969, Hall drove his Bill Stroppe Ford Bronco to an overall win in the Mexican 1000. After being left to rot in a storage yard, it was discovered, restored, and donated to the Off Road Motorsports Hall of Fame.
Rolling under the green flag in Ensenada marked the beginning of Hall’s 50th 1000-mile race in Baja.
At 79 years of age, Hall is slowing down a bit—but not on the track. Although Rod insists that he is not a fast driver, after three days riding shotgun with the man I can tell you…he’s fast!
Hall is the patriarch of a racing family. In addition to his sons Chad and Josh being regulars at SCORE and BITD events, his granddaughter Shelby is chasing her own career on the track. For this year’s Mexican 1000 she split driving duties and help her granddaddy secure a podium finish.
After 1,300-plus miles, Hall pulled the old stallion under the NORRA arch in San José del Cabo and to the checkered flag for a 2nd-in-Class finish.